The Sinners: hillbilly rock with a touch of blues
Durban-based band The Sinners describe themselves as being “inspired by Tarantino films, counting cards and hangovers.” The band combines blues with hard rock and they have recently released their debut album, Tales of Youth and Revenge. We spoke to vocalist Dave Campbell about the release.
You’ve recently released the Zone Radio top 40 with your cover of the Merle Travis song “Sixteen Tons”. What made you choose this song to cover?
My dad used to sing the song to me when I was a youngster. Whenever I asked for something that cost money he’d sing “I owe my soul to the company store” The song is essentially about being heavily in debt which seems very relevant to everyone nowadays. We love really old music. I am an avid fan of the early swing from the prohibition time in the 1920’s through to the New Orleans jazz scene. When the performing acts were part gangster/ part performer. The performances were outlandish and over the top and a lot more thrilling personality wise than anything out [there] these days. We blended this with our core love in the band : ‘big guitar/sexy rock’. This particular song has an interesting history with several people claiming to have written it from as early as the 1930’s. It’s the only cover we do but I feel we have added enough of our style to it to claim it as ours.
You’ve also recently released your debut album. How would you describe the album’s sound?
We get asked that a lot. What sort of music do we play? I’ve never understood the question, [because] how do you describe music? Genre-wise its rock but its pretty far removed from Nickelback. We listen to so many different kinds of music and it’s all part of the inspiration. Blues, jazz, punk, metal – all feature. A fan described our music as sleaze rock and we liked that.
What is the band’s favourite track from the album?
Tough one, we love them all. We have nearly finished writing our next album already and we have thrown away a ton of songs that didn’t [make] the grade. The band guys will probably say “Hillbilly Hole”, but my favourite from the album is probably “Youth and Revenge”, as the story-telling in it is the most visual for me. Then again, “Working Man” [tells] the tale of the possessed corporate employee – argh there are too many, just listen to the whole album.
Were there any stand-out moments during the album’s recording process?
Not the recording itself, but the song-writing was the interesting bit. Originally we planned for our guitarist to be the lead vocals while I was going to play bass guitar. I wrote the song lyrics and he refused to sing them saying they were way too edgy. So the bass player became the singer. We had a guy whose sole purpose in the band was to be dressed in a gimp suit. Fortunately he played bass and took over that from me.
The album also boasts some interesting cover art. What was the inspiration behind it?
The album art was done by Damn Vandal who is getting some serious attention globally for his graffiti and art. We told him what inspires us and he understood exactly what we wanted. Dark, gritty, edgy, gambling, womanizing misfits, that like muscle cars and zombies. I think those were the words we used for the brief.
How did you come up with the album’s title, Tales of Youth and Revenge?
I feel lyrics are overlooked these days in favour of danceable beats. All our songs tell stories about the same character. They often refer to other songs we do as well. So that’s the ‘tales’ part. ‘Youth and Revenge’ [was chosen] as that is the theme in the writing on the songs we released. I kind of penciled [in] that the next album will be called Tales of the Dark and Macabre and keep that theme, but [we’ve] not settled on that yet.
Listen to The Sinners’ cover of “Sixteen Tons” below.